AG suspends certain open meeting laws

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Governor Abbott’s office today approved a request by the Office of the Attorney General to temporarily suspend a limited number of open meeting laws in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) disaster, according to a news release.

This action will allow governmental bodies to conduct meetings by telephone or video conference to advance the public health goal of limiting face-to-face meetings (also called “social distancing”) to slow the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). 

Importantly, however, this action does not suspend requirements that governmental bodies conduct meetings in a transparent and accessible manner. Specifically, governmental bodies are still be required to do the following: 

  • provide online written notice containing a public toll-free dial-in number or a free-of-charge videoconference link, as well as an electronic copy of any agenda packet, before conducting telephonic or video conference meetings; 
  • provide the public with access and a means to participate in those meetings, preferably through two-way audio or video connections; and 
  • provide the public with access to a recording of those meetings.